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1 Volume 18 Number 2 June 2007


Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

[A fifth column refers to a secret group of subversives who strive to undermine the established order from within. The term originated during the Spanish Civil War when, as four of his army columns marched on Madrid, a Nationalist general referred to his supporters within the capital as his fifth column.]

Introduction: The Conspiracy One of the favorite books of Helen Schucman, scribe of A Course in Miracles, was G. K. Chestertons The Man Who Was Thursday. Chesterton, famous for his Father Brown mystery stories, was a very fine Christian writer of the early twentieth century, and the first part of this, perhaps his finest work, reads like a gripping spy story, focusing on a global conspiracy of anarchists. Each of the conspirators is known by a different day of the week, with the leader appropriately called Sunday. The books protagonist, a poet/police detective who is recruited for his position, is called Thursday, hence the books title. The mysterious Sunday, alternately feared and hated, is revealed at the end to be Jesus, the greatest conspirator of all. I have thought of this book often over the years, not only because it was the first thing Helen gave me to read after A Course in Miracles, but because in many ways it mirrors the deceptive quality of the Course, which appears to be saying one thing while it teaches another. Moreover, its anarchic view of the worldthere isnt anybelies its transforming vision for it. On the other handJesus always likes to have things both waysA Course in Miracles is indeed deceptive in its use of language. Thus, for example, there are passages suggesting that the Holy Spirit or Jesus do specific things for us in the world, responding to our specific needs and answering our special requests: The Holy Spirit will answer every specific problem as long as you believe that problems are specific. His answer is both many and one, as long as you believe that the one is many (T11.VIII.5:5-6). And then this very strange passage from the workbook, in which we are told to ask God very specifically: What would You have me do? Where would You have me go? What would You have me say, and to whom? (W-pI.71. 9:3-5; italics omitted) This kind of language has us believe that the world is somehow real, despite the Courses repeated assertions to the contrary. Or if not actually real, then the world is nonetheless treated as if it were, by virtue of passages that suggest how involved Jesus and the Holy Spirit, if not God Himself, are in our daily lives. It thus makes it seem as if the Creator and His Henchmen are somehow conspiring with us against Themselves in the attempt to prove that the physical universe were actually here, thereby committing what would be the Courses cardinal sin, if it believed in sin. This is described in The Song of Prayer as making the error real: Do not see error. Do not make it real (S-2.I.3:3-4). This reflects the third law of chaos, wherein God must believe what His Son tells Him to be the truth about his

2 sinfulness: Here is a principle that would define what the Creator ... must think and what He must believe. ... It is not seen as even necessary that He be asked about the truth of what has been established for His belief. His Son can tell Him this ... [and] He must accept His Sons belief in what he is ... (T-23.II.6:2-4,6). However, the reality is that Jesus is a double agent if there ever were one, a fifth column that burrows into the world, gaining our trust, disguised as one of us by speaking our language. Yet, like Sunday, the chief anarchist in Chestertons story, he is really Heaven-bent on our salvation; here, dissolving our belief in the world that we may awaken from its hellish nightmare and return home. The Deceptive Language of Duality: Another Purpose for the World Jesus is so good at his conspiratorial role that most students of A Course in Miracles do not even realize that it is not their friend. Its purpose is most certainly not to make them happier here, though the words can cleverly seem to mean that (e.g., Gods Will for me is perfect happiness [W-pI.101]), but rather to help them realize that they can never be happy here. Thus we read that the Holy Spirit teaches us through contrastand wants us to recognize the differences between our misery and His happiness: You who are steadfastly devoted to misery must first recognize that you are miserable and not happy. The Holy Spirit cannot teach without this contrast, for you believe that misery is happiness (T-14.II.1:2-3). This is the meaning of the statement from which the articles title was taken: In crucifixion is redemption laid, for healing is not needed where there is no pain or suffering (T-26. VII.17:1). In this one sentence is encapsulated the Courses philosophy of how we are to live meaningfully in a dry and dusty world, where starved and thirsty creatures come to die (W-pII.13.5:1). In the heart of this ego desert, we can yet find soil in which our lilies of forgiveness grow and flourish. This is stated in many ways, as seen in these two examples from the text: The body was not made by love. Yet love does not condemn it and can use it lovingly, respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions (T-18.VI.4:78). Such is the Holy Spirits kind perception of specialness; His use of what you made, to heal instead of harm (T-25.VI.4:1). Therefore, while the world was made as an attack on God (W-pII.3.2:1), being a projection of the fundamental attack thought of the ego that supplanted Gods place on creations throne, it can still be used by the Holy Spirit as a classroom in which we learn that both the world and its underlying thought are illusory. Indeed, without transforming the worlds purpose from attack to forgiveness there would be no way of awakening from the egos nightmare that made our self a substitute reality. Another issue is relevant here, crucial to understanding the dynamics of forgiveness: to whom does Jesus really speak? As he says earlier in the text: Who is the you who are living in this world? Spirit is immortal, and immortality is a constant state. It is as true now as it ever was or ever will be, because it implies no change at all (T-4.II. 11:8-10). In truth, our Identity is Christ, our real Self. Within the dream, however, the you that lives in the world is our decisionmaking self that has projected its identity from the mind to the body. Yet since ideas leave not their source, this self

3 remains within the mind, though it is now experienced as a physical being that is external to it. This projected self has as its purpose the concealment of the mind, so the original decision for the ego will forever remain intact. Yet, since we know only this self, Jesus teachings of forgiveness must be expressed in terms we can understand: All this [forgiveness] takes note of time and place as if they were discrete, for while you think that part of you is separate, the concept of a Oneness joined as One is meaningless. It is apparent that a mind so split could never be the Teacher of a Oneness which unites all things within Itself. And so What is within this mind, and does unite all things together, must be its Teacher. Yet must It use the language that this mind can understand, in the condition in which it thinks it is. And It must use all learning to transfer illusions to the truth, taking all false ideas of what you are, and leading you beyond them to the truth that is beyond them (T-25.I.7:1-5; italics mine). Thus Jesus adopts the role of a fifth column, infiltrating, as it were, our thought system of separation (the condition in which we think we exist), winning our friendship. Bending the form of his words and teaching to express a content that we would otherwise be too afraid to hear, he exemplifies the principle he sets forth for us: The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. In fact, if it is used truly, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver. This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. This does not necessarily mean that this is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now (T-2.IV.5:1-5). Since we have identified with the egos false ideas of separation and specialness, it is that language Jesus must speak. Otherwise our fear would deafen us to his authoritative voice, however gentle and kind it might be. To say this another way, we cannot waken from nightmares to reality: So fearful is the dream, so seeming real, he could not waken to reality without the sweat of terror and a scream of mortal fear, unless a gentler dream preceded his awaking, and allowed his calmer mind to welcome, not to fear, the Voice that calls with love to waken him; a gentler dream, in which his suffering was healed and where his brother was his friend. God willed he waken gently and with joy, and gave him means to waken without fear (T-27. VIII.13:4-5). These gentler or happy dreams of the miracle can be characterized as indirect approaches, wherein the perfect Love of God is reflectedindirectlyin the opportunities for forgiveness offered by our special relationships. This, again, establishes the need for Jesus as a fifth column; at the same time he speaks our dualistic language, he undermines its very foundation of separation. Thus we read: Indirect proof of truth is needed in a world made of denial and without direction .... The Holy Spirit, therefore, must begin His teaching by showing you what you can never learn. His message is not indirect, but He must introduce the simple truth into a thought system which has become so twisted and so complex you cannot see that it means nothing (T-14.I.2:1; 5:1-2). Therefore, Jesus conspiratorial plot is to convince us of our misery here, so that we would then go to him to learn that the source of our misery is the minds decision for the ego. His words suggesting that he helps us here can be construed to anthropomorphize the processas Jesus earning our trust so that his true

4 teaching can begin. He lovingly lures us into his web of Atonement, and once caught up in his gifts of peace, love, and joy, we can never go back to the egos offerings of guilt, attack, and pain. Because of Jesus purpose, it would be a serious mistake to confuse the words for their meaning, the form for their content. As Jesus says of death in the third obstacle to peace, cautioning his students about confusing these two levels: they must stand for something other than themselves. Their meaning cannot lie in them, but must be sought in what they represent. And they may thus mean everything or nothing, according to the truth or falsity of the idea which they reflect (T-19.IV-C, 11:2-4; italics mine). In this context, Jesus refers to the bodys death (form) versus the thought system of death (content), and urges us not to be deluded by the egos clever attempts to keep us focused on the mindless. After all, nothing so blinding as perception of form (T-22.III.6:7). And so he is continually asking us to go beyond the symbols to what they reflect. Still he, and all of us, must use symbols in order to communicate in the world of illusion. This teaching is the principal burden of Lesson 184, where we are taught the following, implicitly being asked by Jesus to use him as an example: It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world, forgetting them forever; yet were asked to take a teaching function. You have need to use the symbols of the world a while. But be you not deceived by them as well. They do not stand for anything at all, and in your practicing it is this thought that will release you from them. They become but means by which you can communicate in ways the world can understand, but which you recognize is not the unity where true communication can be found (WpI.184.9). We are therefore asked to use the symbols of the world of darkness, not because they are real, but only to proclaim [their] unreality in terms which still have meaning in the world that darkness rules (W-pI.184.10:3). Without question, the most common experience for us all, since it is the source of our world and bodily identity within it, is attack. And yet it is our very attack thoughtsspecial hate and lovethat engender guilt and fear of punishment. We cannot then help but seek to avoid awareness by repressing these thoughts, striving to get rid of them through the magic of projection. This selfhateour guiltis expressed in the special relationships we experience between bodies. Even though the source of all specialness remains in our decision-making minds, our experience makes it appear that Jesus is meeting us in the illusion of these bodily relationships. Since there is no way we can return to the mind to choose against guilt, because we are unaware of its existence, we need to look differently at our external relationships, where Jesus seems to be joining us, asking us to look at them through non-judgmental eyeshis. In September 1966, about a year into the Courses seven- year scribing, Jesus commented very specifically to Helen and William Thetford, her colleague and scribal collaborator, about their tumultuous special relationship. He wanted them to acknowledge that the very hatred that so characterized their relationship carried within it the seeds for its and their own healing: You have no idea of the intensity of your wish to get rid of each other. ... You do not realize how much you hate each other. You will not get rid of this until you do realize it. ... Your hatred is not real, but it is real to you. It hides what you really want. Surely you are willing to look upon what you do not want without fear, even if it frightens you, if you can

Remember, then, that neither sign nor symbol should be confused with source, for

5 thereby get rid of it? ... Be not afraid of this journey into fear, for it is not your destination. And we will walk through it in safety, for peace is not far, and you will be led in its light. Indeed, this journey into fearthrough hate to loveis impossible without first recognizing that the desert experienced outside is really inside. This central teaching of A Course in Miracles is obviously meant not only for Helen and Bill, for it strikes at the very heart of Jesus message to us all: that we be willing to look with him at our ego thoughts without guilt, fear, or judgment. Only in this way can their darkness be brought to his light, and thus dispelled forever as he leads us home. Since we have made these thoughts of hate real, and then denied them, we must first be able to look at what we have hidden before we can realize their fundamental lack of reality, and thereby accept the love that alone is real and thus complete our journey. The Ladder Home What, then, are we to make of the seemingly contradictory statements found in the Course that, on the one hand, there is no world to change or save, it being an illusion, and on the other, that we should call upon Jesus for specific help? Could it be that Jesus forgets from one section to another, or is attempting to confuse us; or perhaps Helen heard incorrectly? Or is there method in Jesus madness, to borrow the famous line from Hamlet? In order to understand this seeming paradox, we need to keep in mind the conspiratorial nature of Jesus and his course: joining us as a fifth column midst our reigning kingdom of duality. Yet he does this only so he can adroitly lead us beyond it to the non-dualistic reality that is our home. Using the metaphor of the ladder from The Agreement to Join (T-28.III.1) and The Song of Prayer, Jesus joins us on the bottom rung in the world of specifics so he can gain our confidence. Thus he appears to meet our specific needs and requests with specific answers and advice. However, as our fear begins to lessen, the focus slowly shifts from the world outside to the one insideThe world you see... is the outside picture of an inward condition (,5)allow- ing us to recognize that our perceptions of the world are projections of the minds decision for the ego or Holy Spirit, attack or forgiveness, separate or shared interests. Jesus helps us shift our attention from the distractions of the world to the true problem: the minds decision for the ego, which gave it its existence and, indeed, still sustains it. As that belief is gradually withdrawn and placed in our new Teacher, the ego perforce weakens in its strength, allowing us to be kinder, gentler, and more forgiving as we ascend the ladder that will return us to the Source we never left. It therefore seems as if Jesus operates within the world, for we cannot think of him except as a body, a form we recognize and can accept without fear (T18.VIII.1:5-7). This represents the bottom rung of the ladder that will take us through the body and world to the mind, and on to the real world, the top of the ladder and penultimate step before God, metaphorically speaking, reaches down and raises us unto Himself (e.g., T-11.VIII.15:5). At this point the ladder disappears into the reality to which it has led us. The aforementioned pamphlet, The Song of Prayer, tells us the following, indirectly invoking the image of a ladder to denote the process aspect of forgiveness: You have been told to ask the Holy Spirit for the answer to any specific problem, and that you will receive a specific answer if such is your need. You have also been told that there is only one problem and one answer. In prayer this is not contradictory. There are decisions

6 to make here, and they must be made whether they be illusions or not. You cannot be asked to accept answers which are beyond the level of need that you can recognize. Therefore, it is not the form of the question that matters, nor how it is asked. The form of the answer, if given by God, will suit your need as you see it. This is merely an echo of the reply of His Voice. The real sound is always a song of thanksgiving and of Love (S-1.I.2). And so Jesus asks us, after having enticed us with his comforting presence within the dream, why would we choose to remain in an illusory world of specifics when we can ascend the ladder and return to our Creators Love? What could His answer be but your remembrance of Him? Can this be traded for a bit of trifling advice about a problem of an instants duration? God answers only for eternity. But still all little answers are contained in this (S-1.I.4:5-8). Yet, because of our level of fear of awakening and losing our individual identity, we are not ready to release the hold we have over a need-filled self and world of specifics: This is not a level of prayer that everyone can attain as yet (S-1.I.6:1). Now we can understand our need to experience Jesus with us in form, for his mindful, formless presence of love is too threatening to us who still cling to our bodily existence. This is why we need to think of forgiveness (or prayer) as a process, wherein we are slowly led through the world of form (the bottom rungs of the ladder) to the content of oneness with our Creator (what lies beyond the ladder entirely): Prayer ... does change in form, and grow with learning until it reaches its formless state, and fuses into total communication with God (S-1.II.1:1,3). In 1975, Jesus gave an important message to Helen, one I have cited before in these pages as a caution to students who ask Jesus for specific help with specific problems. This caution holds even when, as in Helens case, there is a sincere desire to be of help to another. Helen had asked Jesus what she should say to someone dealing with a difficult situation, and this was his unexpected response: Do not forget if you attempt to solve a problem, you have judged it for yourself and so you have betrayed your proper role. ... Remember you need nothing, but you have an endless store of loving gifts to give. But teach this lesson only to yourself. Your brother will not learn it from your words or from the judgments you have laid on him. You need not even speak a word to him. You cannot ask, What shall I say to him? and hear Gods answer. Rather ask instead, Help me to see this brother through the eyes of truth and not of judgment, and the help of God and all His angels will respond (Absence from Felicity, p. 381). And so we are gently led up the ladder from form to the formless, body to mind, and on to Mind. As we make our way, we begin to recognize Jesus true purpose in being our teacher. Working through our belief in specific needs, he appears to be meeting us in our world. There, while seeming to respond to them, he teaches us that our one needwhich answers them allis to learn forgiveness (e.g., .the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything [T-3.V.6:3]). The experience of needs roots us in the body, while our one need exists solely in the mind, where the choice for a different thought system can be made. Thus is our only meaningful purpose of forgiveness attained: Once you accept His plan as the one function that you would fulfill, there will be nothing else the Holy Spirit will not arrange for you without your effort. ... Nothing you need will be denied you. Not one seeming difficulty but will melt away before you reach it. You

7 need take thought for nothing, careless of everything except the only purpose that you would fulfill (T-20.IV.8:4,6-8). The implications for our daily living are huge. Each and every moment of each and every day, we are confronted by opportunities to look again at our egos need to judge and attack, cannibalize and condemn. Allowing Jesus to walk through our lives with us means we consistently ask his help that we look at the world through his eyes, which see only expressions of love or calls for it (T-14.X.7:1). Thus do we correct, in forms we can understand, the minds underlying error of having chosen the egos thought system of separation and differences. Blessed now with Jesus gift of vision, we recognize the inherent sameness of Gods seemingly separated and fragmented Sons: the split mind that consists of the egos wrong mind, the Holy Spirits right mind, and the power of our decisionmaking minds to choose between them. And so are our perceptions cleansed of error, our minds gently transformed from wrong- to right-minded thinking: from judgment to vision, attack to forgiveness. The ladder is slowly ascended until we reach the ultimate transformation: self to Self. Conclusion: The Ultimate Transformation I close the article with one of Helens poems, Transformation, which beautifully expresses the shift from the harsh discordant sounds of a moribund world that is too much with us, to the radiant realm of the real world wherein loves gentle sounds reverberate throughout our minds now filled with light. It is the shift from the egos content of guilt to Jesus content of forgiveness, and so it is not the world of form that changes, but how we perceive it. In other words, our perspective shifts from the needy world of the bodys specialness to the minds classroom of learning forgiveness. Thus we read below in the poem: The trivial enlarge in magnitude, while what seemed large resumes the littleness that is its due. And: What was harsh before and seemed to speak of death now sings of life, and joins the chorus to eternity. Transformation was written during the Easter season; hence the reference at the end to the biblical story of the bodys resurrection. The poem, however, calls us to share Jesus true resurrection of the minds awakening from the egos dream of death. Having joined us as a fifth column in the world of crucifixion where we made plans for death, [he] led [us] gently to eternal life (W-pI.135.18:4). This is our ultimate transformation and the consummation of the journey, which led us from the mindless world of bodies to the mind-filled world of forgiveness. As our perception of the world is transformed, so is our perception of Jesus, for we have become at last what he had planned for us at the beginning: remembering we are allwithout exceptionHeavens one Son. It happens suddenly. There is a Voice That speaks one Word, and everything is changed. You understand an ancient parable That seemed to be obscure. And yet it meant Exactly what it said. The trivial Enlarge in magnitude, while what seemed large

8 Resumes the littleness that is its due. The dim grow bright, and what was bright before Flickers and fades and finally is gone. All things assume the role that was assigned Before time was, in ancient harmony That sings of Heaven in compelling tones Which wipe away the doubting and the care All other roles convey. For certainty Must be of God. It happens suddenly, And all things change. The rhythm of the world Shifts into concert. What was harsh before And seemed to speak of death now sings of life, And joins the chorus to eternity. Eyes that were blind begin to see, and ears Long deaf to melody begin to hear. Into the sudden stillness is reborn The ancient singing of creations song, Long silenced but remembered. By the tomb The angel stands in shining hopefulness To give salvations message: Be you free, And stay not here. Go on to Galilee. (The Gifts of God, p. 64)